Dealing with Low-Tech Algae the Easy Way
So - you’ve started a new planted aquarium, it’s cycling away, you’ve put in some plants and hardscape and everything is looking great.
Then one day you look in to admire your hard work and there is algae on your leaves, diatoms on your substrate, and generally things just look like a huge mess.
Your immediate reaction will be to make some changes to your lighting, or your fertilisation, or throw in some algaecide, maybe mess with some other parameters you feel might be the root of the issue.
But wait! Sometimes the key to beating algae is to simply just wait it out.
Good foundations are key
If your aquarium has been set up with good foundations, you’re off to a great start.
What are these good foundations?
Adequate filtration and circulation for the volume of your water, a regular fertilisation schedule or nutrient rich substrate (ideally both), adequate lighting and 70% or more of your substrate planted out. A setup with all of these basic foundations addressed will become a balanced system over time, as plant mass increases and outcompetes algae for nutrients.
Don’t mess around
One of the most common mistakes when algae appears suddenly is to jump in and start making big changes in the hopes it will go away. In reality, even the smallest change in your system can cause an imbalance, which stresses your plants as they attempt to adapt to fluctuating parameters.
The stressed plants attract more algae and the problem worsens. Due to the slow growth and adaptation of plants in low-tech setups, you might not see differences until several weeks after a change has been made. But you might have made even more changes since then – so the algae just keeps getting worse!
Providing a stable environment is important for the health of your plants, and if you keep fidgeting with lighting, fertilisation, etc, your plants won’t get a chance to settle in and start growing!
Healthy plants are far and away the best defence against algae, as they’re able to outcompete it for nutrients.
Wait it out
Algae forms when there’s an imbalance in your system. New tanks are all but guaranteed to be imbalanced as everything settles and roots are only just starting to form. Ammonia levels are fluctuating along with dissolved organics and other nutrients.
It’s important at this stage to let your aquarium do its thing, and keep it stable. Don’t change anything. Don’t use algaecide. You really just have to wait!
Keep your fertilisation and lighting period regular as clockwork, ensure filtration is adequate and perform regular water changes with siphoning of organic waste to keep these levels as low as possible.
Any algae that can come off easily can also be siphoned up, along with any decaying plant matter which should be removed on sight. Damaged, decaying or otherwise unhealthy leaves always attract algae as they leak organics and nutrients, and won’t be “repaired” by the plant. Removing them is the best option.
Everything takes time in low tech aquariums. As your plants are going to grow slowly, you will see the effects of any changes slowly. It can take several weeks for your aquarium to find its balance and for algae to dissipate, but it will happen providing the foundations are in place.
If you can’t wait, or you have a couple of straggling bits of algae that just won’t disappear, you can always spot dose LCA Carbon Plus on affected areas, or hydrogen peroxide is also a popular choice.
What you really want is for your plants to be healthy and growing to their best ability. Provide that environment and algae will be a distant memory.
From The LCA Team
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